Mumbai: The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have formed an alliance for the upcoming assembly elections but there are many constituencies in the state, where aspirants from either party have applied as Independents. One such assembly seat is that of the Andheri East assembly constituency. The seat has been allotted to the Sena, who fielded its sitting member of the legislative assembly (MLA) Ramesh Latke, while the former corporator from the BJP Murji Patel too is contesting the same seat as an Independent. The Congress has given a ticket to Jagdish Amin.

Patel and his wife Kesarben, were disqualified as corporators by the Bombay High Court in April 2019 for submitting invalid caste certificates.

The constituency's biggest problem is its ever-growing traffic, thanks to its industrial areas. When Metro One, from Versova to Ghatkopar became operational, to some extent, traffic was eased but now that work is under way for two more metro lines through this constituency, the situation is worse. Apart from the traffic, uneven water supply in areas like Gundavli and parts of Marol is an issue. Most of the candidates have promised to address traffic issues in their manifesto. 

Kedar Jagtap, a resident of this area for 35 years, said, "Traffic is the major issue here. Before every election, candidates promise to solve the traffic problem once elected, but once in power, they don't care to keep their word, which is why the problem persists."

Sena candidate Latke said, "I was a three-time corporator here and a sitting MLA. In my tenure I have built new toilets for locals and worked on the roads as well. I have also authorised renovation and repairs at the police camp in Marol," Latke said. He referred to his opponent Patel, as "an opportunistic".

Refuting this allegation, Patel said, "I will not talk about any other contestants. The public has given me the AB form and that is the reason I am contesting. Traffic is a major issue in the area. If elected, I will widen roads and clear the way for laying down roads mentioned in the development plan."

There are almost three lakh voters in this constituency, including 55 per cent men and 45 per cent women. In the 2014 assembly elections, there was a 53% voter turnout in this constituency. 

In 2014, all the major parties contested independently and in this constituency the main battle was between the Sena and the BJP, won by Ramesh Latke of the Sena, who polled 52,817 votes while his BJP counterpart secured 47,338 votes and the Congress bagged 37,929 votes.

Due to Patel's candidacy, the contest has become interesting and it will not be easy for Latke to make the cut, although Patel has declared that if he wins, he will go with the alliance.

--Sachin Gadh

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